There are all kinds of diets out there that I am sure you have all heard about. There are low-fat diets, low-carbohydrate diets, gluten-free diets, paleo, zone and the list can go on and on. As I have said in previous posts, I LOVE food and therefore “diets” are not really something I like to follow. I do however try to make sure that my body has the right fuel for what I ask of it every day. Everybody is different and has different needs. For example, some people need to follow a gluten-free diet due to allergies or other health issues.
Eat Real Food, Not Too Much and Mostly Plants – These are the nutrition principles that I rely on. I love it because it is so simple. However, there is one key piece that I feel is lacking especially as we get older and that is our need for PROTEIN.
Protein is the building block of muscle tissue providing the amino acids necessary to build and maintain muscle cells. Building and maintaining strong healthy muscles is an important focus of our Fit for Life program with the goal of preventing the onset of frailty later in life. Age-related muscle loss (called sarcopenia) starts as early as your 30’s, and 50 percent of muscle can be lost by the age of 70!! So what do we do to prevent this???
Physical activity that includes resistance exercise is crucial. If you are part of the Fit for Life program, you are already doing it!! The next step is to ensure that you are getting enough protein in your diet every day. In addition to getting enough, you need to make sure that you are spreading it out evenly throughout your day (not just at dinner).
So how much protein do I need? Research has now shown that the previously recommended protein intake of 0.8g per kg of body weight is not enough for older adults to maintain muscle. New guidelines are coming into effect that recommend the following for healthy adults over the age of 65: consume 1.2 g of protein for every kg of body weight. That means that a person weighing 60kg (132lbs) would need to eat 72g of protein. If you workout regularly you may need to increase this the 2g per kg and if you are undernourished or have an illness you may need 1.2 -1.5g per kg per day.
The next most important thing is to spread your protein intake out evenly throughout the day. So in other words, eat protein with every meal! Research has shown that those individuals who spread their protein intake evenly throughout the day had higher muscle-strength scores. This makes sense since there is a limit to the rate at which the amino acids can be synthesized into muscle tissue.
Here are some examples of protein sources you might try adding to your diet:
- 3 ounces sirloin steak, cooked (34)
- 3 ounces chicken breast, cooked (26)
- 3 ounces Atlantic salmon, cooked (19)
- 1 large egg (6.3)
- 1/4 cup egg whites (7)
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 0% MF (10)
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 0% MF (18)
- 3/4 cup kefir, plain (8)
- 1 cup milk (8-9)
- 1 ounce cheddar (6.5)
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (8)
- 1 cup almond/rice milk (1)
- 2 tbsp. hummus (2)
- 2 tbsp. almond butter (7.5)
- 1/4 cup almonds (7.3)
- 1/4 cup walnuts (4)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (8.8)
- 2 tbsp. hemp seeds (6.6)
- 1/4 cup almonds (7.3)
- 3/4 cup firm tofu (16.5)
- 3/4 cup edamame, shelled (16.5)
- 3/4 cup black beans (11.4)
- 3/4 cup chickpeas (11)
- Protein powder, 1 serving (20-30)
- 1/4 cup vegetables (2)
- 1 cup whole wheat spaghetti, cooked (9)
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked (8)
- 1 cup millet, cooked (6)
- 1 cup of oatmeal (6)
The Globe and Mail had a great article on this a few weeks ago.